Tuesday, 25 March 2014

My Liebster Award - A Tasty Morsel Indeed!

OK, when Milady Fury thrusts one of these at you, there is no point in even trying to decline - however politely. The lady simply doesn't understand the words, 'Thank you, but I think I'll pass on this occasion.'. It's rather like telling Father Ted's Mrs Doyle that you don't want a cup of tea:

Actually, it's all good fun, so thank you indeed, Milady. So, here goes. Firstly, on pain of death, I must link back to Milady's web page, because she's the one who handed me this award.

Next, I have to answer the 10 questions she set me on her blog.

1. Which fictional character would you most fancy having a fling with and why?

Sawyer from Lost. You really need a reason? Just look!

2 You’ve been shipwrecked on a desert island, what man ..sorry book can’t you be without?

The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde. There are a lot of them - but all in one book. 

3 What inspires you? Places or people?

Both really. Vienna always inspires me. I can go out of my door, walk a few metres in any direction and feel inspired for the rest of the day. Equally, there are many people I find inspiring. Nelson Mandela, for example.

4 What little tome are you working on right now?
 Freya's Choice has been having a re-edit and is now sitting on one side for a few weeks, so I can read it with fresh eyes before sending it back to a publisher who has been kind enough to express interest in it. As the name suggests, a rather senior Norse goddess is involved. This one is a paranormal romance. Not erotic, as my previous two were.

5 Who would you like to see in the movie version?

This gorgeous hunky guy would be perfect for Mark Latimer. We'd have to hire a vocal coach to tone down the accent though! His name's Giulio Berruti and he's an Italian actor.

6 In your own books do you have a favourite character and why?

I like Eve in Freya's Choice because she's had some tough breaks, but she refuses to be a victim. She also stands up to Freya and that takes some guts, I can tell you!

7 What do you think is the best book movie?

This is a tough one because there have been some great adaptations - there have also been some real turkeys too. One of my favourites from a long time ago was Somewhere in Time, starring Christopher Reeve and adapted from the Richard Matheson timeslip novel. Delicious.

8 Roughly how long does it take you to write a book?

Three to six months but can be shorter or longer.

9 Favorite food?

Wiener Schnitzel at the moment

10 Any bits in your book you are embarrassed to show your family?

If we were in contact, I'd happily show them Freya's Choice 
Now, here are my ten questions:

1. If you could live at any time in history, when would it be and why?

2. Which of your characters do you most identify with, and why?

3. You have won two tickets for a romantic weekend at a destination of your choosing. Who would you take and where would you go?

4. Which book have you read that you most wish you'd written?

5. What are you currently working on?

6. What is your idea of heaven?

7. Who inspires you, and why?

8.  Which of your books are you most proud of?

9. have you ever had a recurring dream? What was it about?

10. What comes first for you as a writer - the plot or the main character(s)?

And I nominate these victims - er- I mean lucky people, to take up the gauntlet of the Liebster Award. Go on, you know you want to...

Susan Roebuck
Jerrie Alexander
Suz deMello
Noelle Clark
Dani-Lyn Alexander
Ally Shields

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Blood Is Thicker..

I’m always happy to host fellow author, Suz de Mello, especially when she’s writing paranormal action adventure. Today, her short story, Blood Is Thicker is published by Ellora’s Cave.

Previously titled, Immortal Hunters, this exciting story tells of a century-old vampire, Rama, who is used to shadows and loneliness. 

She uses the name Hestia White and lives in a coastal town working as a private investigator. If some bad guys disappear on her shift, no one cares…until John van Helsing shows up. Bearing the name of the vamps’ greatest foe, he interferes in her case and in her life.

Friend, lover or enemy? 

I can’t wait to find out!

You can buy it here: Ellora's Cave

About The Author:

Best-selling, award-winning author Suz deMello, a.k.a Sue Swift, has written seventeen romance novels in several subgenres, including erotica, comedy, historical, paranormal, mystery and suspense, plus a number of short stories and non-fiction articles on writing. A freelance editor, she’s worked for Total-E-Bound, Liquid Silver Books and Ai Press, where she is currently Managing Editor. She also takes private clients.

Her books have been favorably reviewed in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and Booklist, won a contest or two, attained the finals of the RITA and hit several bestseller lists.

A former trial attorney, her passion is world travel. She’s left the US over a dozen times, including lengthy stints working overseas. She’s now writing a vampire tale and planning her next trip.
--Find her books at http://www.suzdemello.com

--For editing services, email her at suzswift@yahoo.com

--Befriend her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sueswift, and visit her group page at https://www.facebook.com/redhotauthorscafe

--She tweets her reading picks @ReadThis4fun and @Suzdemello

--Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/suzdemello/

--Goodreads: http://bit.ly/SuzATGoodreads

--Her current blog is http://www.fearlessfastpacedfiction.com

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

The Sin Circus - Cover Reveal

Today, a truly fabulous cover reveal for a collection of fantastic, erotic short stories from authors you love to read, AND your chance to win  a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Everyone remembers their first trip to the circus--the home of fantasy and dreams. Where the idea that anything is possible meets a creative reality of alluring tricks and amazing acts of defiance. The big top is known for inspiring lust, awe, and happy memories, and now you'll see it like never before.

Some of today's hottest romance authors combine the decadent memories of the center ring with all the flavors in erotic fiction in The Sin Circus. Whether it's with a dominating Ringmaster, a lion tamer's bratty kittens, or a dark Harlequin King, this show is sure to shock the audience with its dazzling dares and tantalizing tales.

Dark Surrender by Rachel Firasek
He stole her control, but she hasn't completely surrendered her heart...yet.

Claimed by the Blade by Mina Carter
He's waited years to claim her. Tonight, she's all out of excuses...

Ring of Fire by Lacey Wolfe
The Ringmaster must figure out his feelings before his ballerina goes up in flames...

Unmasking Her Dom by Jennifer James
Tormented by touch, the King of the Harlequin resolves to release his bratty sub before she strips away the last barriers between them, and discovers his secret shame.

The Bratty Lioness Tamer by April Angel
Two sexy female lovers. A new master ready to tame them. And the performance they'll never forget.

Sweet & Sticky by Sabrina Garie
Recipe for forever: Mix a flailing writer with a down-on-his-luck agent, toss in a pound of cotton candy and an empty bleacher. Let simmer.

Twice the Pleasure by Georgina DeBurca
As the bindings unravel, two brothers race to save the woman who has captured their hearts.

With the Greatest of Ease by Anne Lange
He traded a trapeze and the catch of a lifetime for a life in a courtroom. Now he’ll share her, to catch her, one last time.

Now, here's your chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card! Just enter below...

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Rossetti's Muse...The Tragedy of Elizabeth Siddal

She nearly died of hypothermia while posing as Ophelia in a bath of cold water, and she is famous for the mass of flaming red hair that so captivated the entire Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood and made her their favourite model. But it was to one of them, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, that she gave her heart as well as her body.

From the moment he laid eyes on her, Rossetti was captivated by the former milliner's assistant. He sketched her, painted her, bedded her and betrayed her constantly with a never-ending stream of lovers. But he kept coming back to her. There was just something about Lizzie.

She was born in 1829, of a working class background, and was first discovered and painted by a student of Rossetti's called Walter Deverell. He painted her as Viola from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. 

Ophelia - John Everett Millais
Other members of the Brotherhood also retained her modelling services. William Holman Hunt used her for Valentine Rescuing Sylvia from Proteus and, most famously, John Everett Millais laid her in her icy bath for his Ophelia. But it was as Rossetti's model that Lizzie became most prolific. She appeared in Ecce Ancilla Domini, The Wedding of Prince George and Princess Sabra, How They Met Themselves, The Tune of the Seven Towers, and Dantis Amor.

Ecce Ancilla Domini - Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Rossetti and Lizzie were a toxic combination. In their tumultuous personal relationship, their rows were white hot - the reconciliation passionate. They lived together, unmarried, in an age where society shunned such behaviour. Not that conforming to any social norm had ever been part of Rossetti's make up.

Rossetti's sister, the poet, Christina Rossetti, wrote a poem about her brother's unconventional relationship;

In an Artist's Studio

One face looks out from all his canvases,
One selfsame figure sits or walks or leans:
We found her hidden just behind those screens,
That mirror gave back all her loveliness.
A queen in opal or in ruby dress,
A nameless girl in freshest summer-green,
A saint, an angel --every canvas means
The same one meaning, neither more nor less.
He feeds upon her face by day and night,
And she with true kind eyes looks back on him,
Fair as the moon and joyful as the light:
Not wan with waiting, not with sorrow dim;
Not as she is, but was when hope shone bright;
Not as she is, but as she fills his dream.

In reality, Christina Rossetti was not particularly taken with her brother's choice of life partner.
The Quest of a Holy Grail - Elizabeth Siddal
But Lizzie was far more than just an artist's model. She possessed her own artistic talent - as a painter and poet - and Rossetti encouraged this, as did his friend, the poet, artist, author and critic, John Ruskin.
Proserpine - Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Rossetti and Lizzie remained loosely engaged to be married for ten years, during which his roving eye became fixed on a new model, the dark-haired Jane Burden who, many years later when she was married to his friend, William Morris, would pose for him as Proserpine. Destined to be the next great love of his life, Rossetti let her slip through his fingers when, either through genuine love, pity or a sense of guilty duty, he finally married Lizzie in 1860.

By now, Lizzie was an increasingly sick and frail woman, addicted to laudanum. Her moods were erratic as was her temper. In 1861 she gave birth to a stillborn daughter and never recovered either physically or mentally. A few months later, her husband came home to find her dead of an overdose of laudanum, either accidental or deliberate. She was 32 years old.
Beata Beatrix - Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Rossetti blamed himself for her death and plunged into an abyss of grief. He thrust a book of poems he was working on into her coffin. He painted the Beata Beatrix as a memorial to her and, as he sank further and further into depression, his career started to slide. 

By now, in dire need of finance, he was persuaded to retrieve the book of poems and ordered her coffin to be exhumed. He wasn't present when they opened it at dead of night, and a legend spread that those who were there witnessed a phenomenon. They said that, after death, her flaming red hair had continued to grow and now filled the coffin. Her body was reported to be perfectly preserved. She was reburied and the poems were published. They were not a success.
The Queen of Hearts - Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Rossetti had even more guilt to heap on himself now. He couldn't forgive himself for exhuming her body, certain that had been a grievous sin. He turned to laudanum and became an addict, attempting suicide by taking an overdose in 1872, but he survived another twenty years. While he carried on a long term affair with Jane, it would seem he could never forget, nor forgive himself for his treatment of, his muse - Lizzie Siddal.

History has placed Lizzie as an example of a woman swimming against the morals and dictates of the male dominated society in which she lived. She forged her own artistic career, which gave her financial independence in an age when women were expected to be dependent on men. Even if her paintings weren't in the same league as the Brotherhood, they have their own artistic merit and, in their other-worldliness and simple style, seem strangely modern. Her poems were dark and melancholic, brooding on her own emotional turmoil.
Rossetti in 1863, photographed by Lewis Carroll
A Silent Wood

O silent wood, I enter thee
With a heart so full of misery
For all the voices from the tree
And the ferns that cling about my knees.
In thy darkest shadow let me sit
When the grey owls about thee flit;
There will I ask of thee a boon,
That I may not faint or die or swoon.
Gazing through the gloom like one
Whose life and hopes are also done,
Frozen like a thing of stone
I sit in thy shadow – but not alone.
Can God bring back the day when we two stood
Beneath the clinging trees in that dark wood?

(Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal)

Lizzie is often portrayed as a victim. Used and abused during her lifetime and then not even permitted the dignity of resting in peace. In promoting this view, none can have felt it more forcibly than the man who believed himself to be the main offender. Dante Gabriel Rossetti went to his grave believing himself guilty on all counts.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Fire Storm - Adventures in the Paranormal World of Ally Shields

Today, I'm delighted to feature Ally Shields' latest in her Guardian Witch series - Fire Storm.

In keeping with the previous four books in the series, Ally racks up the tension and delivers a rollercoaster of a novel. Plenty of adventure, paranormal romance and urban fantasy to keep her readers riveted. So, what's the story? Read on...

Sometimes you just need to stay alive to fight another day.

Six months ago Ari moved in with the vampire prince Andreas. They defied the vampire elders in Europe, killed their enforcer, and have waited for retaliation that never came.

Until now.

On a trip to Italy, Andreas is captured by the vampire rulers, the notorious O-Seven, and taken in chains to their stronghold in Germany. Ari goes after him, even though it’s against the orders of her Magic Council. She is fired for her actions, losing her special Guardian powers at a time she needs them most.

But the vampire rulers are not through with her or with those who attempt to help her. They launch attacks in Europe and at home in Riverdale. Ari is forced to fight them on several fronts, and victory grows increasingly uncertain.

Her last chance to rescue Andreas is a daring plan that places her in the hands of the O-Seven and relies on untested witch magic, the final hope for their survival.

Now, here's the fabulous trailer:

Excerpt from Chapter Four: Andreas is missing in Italy. Ari and her friends are tracking him and his abductors.

“The scent stops here,” Ramon said. “They followed it to some kind of circle drawn on the ground, where it ended. To be certain, they’ve searched a half mile radius.” 
Samuel and Ramon pulled back the brush, and the group entered the clearing. Ari drew back a step. An oppressive black aura, a dark thundercloud of haze, hung over the immediate area. She didn’t say anything, because the others couldn’t see it, but other remnants of the sorcery circle were obvious to all. The scent of sulfur, the ring of ashes. She moved forward to examine the ash used to draw the circle and recoiled in disgust. Human ashes. Not unexpected because the ability to teleport was produced by a dark arts spell. The most complex spells required a level of power typically achieved through human sacrifice or at least the use of human remains. 
She stood and walked the circle. Sophistrina’s coven used black magic to teleport, but this wasn’t big enough to hold thirteen witches. This ring held no more than five or six creatures, and some of them had been werebears. And Sophistrina didn’t use human remains. At least not when Ari knew her. 
The air at the edge of the circle shimmered. “Intruders,” she shouted. “Get out of here.” She leaped forward to protect her companions, throwing up a temporary barrier with the magic powder she always carried in her pockets. Lilith pulled both her guns; Samuel began to morph into tiger form, and the foxes snarled a warning, but backed away, ready to run. 
Energy crackled, and as if Ari’s earlier thoughts had pulled them in, Sophistrina and her coven materialized outside the prior circle.
“Hold everything. It’s Sophistrina.” Ari thrust out a restraining hand to keep her companions from attacking, but she kept her eyes on the witches, waiting to see the coven’s mood. The last leader of this group had indeed tried to kill her. It paid to be cautious. Especially when they showed up at this particular spot. 
“Why do you seem so surprised?” The high priestess smiled at her from the other side of the barrier and cocked her head to one side. “Didn’t you call me?”

You can buy Fire Storm here:


You can catch up with Ally here:

Other books in the series: 


All books can be accessed through Ally's author page at Amazon: http://amzn.to/13LH078 or this search link at Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/?series_id=842187